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Fantasy Novel: Whistlestop Chapter

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Old 04-02-2017, 06:25 AM
Annamarth (Offline)
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Default Fantasy Novel: Whistlestop Chapter 23


The SUV’s tires spun on the loose gravel as he drove out of the pack clubhouse’ parking lot. Small gravel stones pinged against the wheels of the other vehicles waiting for their drivers. Xavier forced the rage down that had bubbled up when Arthur prevented his discreet departure from the pack gathering.

Arthur had smirked, his thick muscled arm blocked Xavier’s way out. Alpha power pulsed around him in waves, “We need to protect the pack’s territory by dealing with our property in the accepted manner.” The alpha’s voice deepened as he continued to speak, his eyes stared hotly at Xavier. “It has everything to do with pack values, attitudes, integrity and a person’s inability to treat other people with respect and acceptance.”

The wolf inside Xavier growled and clawed to break free, snarling, What is he talking about? Rip out his throat! Xavier felt his wolf trying to gain the upper hand and control over his change slipping like butter through his fingers. The hair on his back pushing through trying to break free from the stranglehold Xavier had on his wolf.

All the leaders of the Wolfville pack stared at the three men standing at the door. Xavier saw their interest and knew that if he lost control at that moment, everybody would be aware of his wolf’s power, and he would wave a successful mission away. “I will let you claim Joanne, but that cannot happen if you kill the alpha,” bargained Xavier with his wolf in exasperation, Yes, mine now.

Buzzing and vibration of the phone in his pocket reminded him of Ted’s SMS. Joanne! Growled Xavier’s wolf. The tantalizing request distracted his wolf and gave Xavier time to pull in his shoulders and lower his head in a submissive stance.

“You are right Alpha,” said Xavier as he lowered his head dutifully and ducked underneath the heavily muscled arm of the alpha and limped away.
Xavier despised humans or shifters who wanted to intimidate or dominate him. In the past, it was easy for him to sidestep potentially tricky situations like the one he just avoided.

Thankful for small mercies when the other SUV’s obscured the view of the interior of his car and that the darkness and distance for the potential threat camouflaged his partial shift. Deep calming breaths racked his body. Slowly control blossomed from his heart and pumped throughout his veins neutralizing the chemicals that enabled his shift.

Joanne was so evasive that his wolf stayed agitated and challenging, straining his control over the situation. He was not sent to unseat Arthur as alpha but to test their new extended identity system for shifters. A program that if it worked, could benefit all shifters.

When he recognized Joanne as his mate, he took it in his stride and pushed the awareness to the back of his mind, planning to ponder over the importance of the problem when he had alone time.

Before he could come to grip with the mating issue, a secondary mission was forced on him. The risk to all shifters would be enormous if the fact that a feral lycan wolf mutilated bodies of the loggers. The unusual stressful situation has added fuel to the fire inside him. The flames inside his mind felt red hot and scalding.

Xavier’s wolf wanted to find Joanne, but to Xavier, the man, the idea to mate with a stranger was unpalatable. He had forced his wolf into cowering submission in the past, but the promise he just made was binding.

“Why is Silas so anxious to get his hands on Joanne’s rental agreement?” wondered Xavier as he sped towards his house, just another puzzle to solve.

The large wooden garage door of Xavier’s house cranked close behind him as he strode towards the entrance that connected his home. His vehicle was parked at all angles in the large area, bare of the SF’s equipment and vehicles. Moonlight shone brightly through the picture windows giving him a clear view of the woodlands and glistening white shore of the lake. All seemed normal. The reflective moonbeams gave him enough light to reach the stairs that descended to the specially designed atrium and its secret passage into the woods. His measured decent further calmed his wolf.

At the edge of the forest, he inhaled the pristine smell of woodland that had only his scent, his territory. The nocturnal sounds of the woods lightened his heart, and the burning sensation lifted. A wolf howled in the distance, and he had to suppress the urge to reply. The grueling run of a few hours ago forgotten, he started a slow, relaxed pace as he looped through the underbrush to the path that led deeper into the darkening forest.

Several kilometers later he reached the top of the ridge and looked down towards the gorge where the Shifter Council’s Engineers were setting up the base camp. With their usual speed, dark shapes of erected tents partially finished modular command units built to their standard plan. He saw dark shapes and lights moved about, heard a few grunts and the usual colorful language of men lifting and fastening things. He knew by morning the camp would be fully operational and the area camouflaged.

The sentry patrolling the wooded area that faced his house was on the look out for Xavier and acknowledge his wolf with a snort and waved Xavier along and reported on his radio that Xavier has arrived.
Xavier stopped at the supply tent, shifted into his human form and grabbed a clean t-shirt and shorts from the communal pile, always ready for wolves that needed clothes. The camp was a hive of activity as temporary sleeping quarters, ablution blocks and all the structures SC decided a temporary camp needed, was built. It looked to Xavier as if they were planning to stay for a while.

A single globe hung on a hook against one of the tent poles and bathed the inside of the dark tent in a warm, welcoming yellow light. The musty smell of damp canvas greeted him like an old friend, a reminder of simpler times when he traveled the world with the Special Enforcers, tracking trouble animals and people. None of this mate shit hanging over his head.

He entered the tent and stood just inside the entrance watching the two men staring at a red dot moving across the screen. The same equipment they used at the Forestry Camp was arranged to form a wall of paraphernalia at the one side of the tent. Stacked chairs were standing against one canvas wall, and camp beds were folded open against another wall.

Ted and Gavin sat in front of a monitor glowering at a satellite image arguing about what they were seeing. Xavier wondered why Ted was so secretive and insisted that he had to be told in person.

“What was so important that you had to tell me to my face,” enquired Xavier, facing them with his arms crossed, leaning against the tent pole.

“Oh, that was fast. You are going to owe us big time,” grinned Ted as he motioned Xavier towards the empty chair in front of the monitors.

“What do you think that is?” asked Gavin not even looking at Xavier, but staring at the screen.

“I told you, it is an abandoned suburb of the City,” argued Ted.

“It looks like rows of houses, a school, and some abandoned factories, so yes Ted, I agree with you, it is an abandoned suburb,” was Xavier’s bored reply.

“Why do I have to be here, my bed is calling? A bed that I have not slept in for more than three weeks ” grumbled Xavier.
“When we waited for the Engineers’ train, your doll walked onto the platform calm as you please. I would not have recognized her, but she spoke to a young enforcer on guard duty. She wore that tattered coat and faded flannel shirt, the clothes she wore at the City Station. Remember when you lost her after following her from Winslow’s office,” said Ted, his gaze fixed on the satellite image, oblivious of the glare Xavier darted at him.

Xavier’s wolf lost its lethargy. Inevitably Xavier’s hand moved to the scar at the side of his head. A recent habit that calmed his wolf, but Xavier the man was perturbed by the idea that Joanne was running around Wolfville unaccompanied. She was at risk if Arthur’s strange behavior tonight was any indication.

“I slipped an electronic tracker into one of her pockets, and there she is.”
Xavier jerked upright and stood behind the men. Gavin rewound the recording, and they watched the figure walking towards buildings that looked like a school. The dot was met by a dark shadow, and they entered the building. After a while, the two appeared on the walkway of the top floor of a multi-storey building. They stood together for a few minutes and then moved to what looked like their rooms.

The three men waited, but she remained within the room, it seemed she was home.

Xavier sat down fast. His friends watched him curiously and stared at the expressionless look on his face, contradicted by how fast his legs gave way and he sat down. He ignored their curious looks and his wolf furious that two single men were tracking his mate. He rubbed his scar waiting for his wolf’s howls to calm down.

“Johnny is following her, and we warned him not to rely on her sent,” said Gavin eagerly rubbing his hands. “She is so tricky, but we’ve got her. Winslow will have to get us that new satellite connection as a reward.”

“What was she doing in abandoned buildings, and who was meeting her?” asked Ted curiously. “What do you want us to do?”

Xavier glared with a blinding intensity at the screen with its shadows and shapes barely illuminated by the moon as if he was willing his eyes to see through the ether.

“Let him stay there, unobserved, and he should let me know if anything changes.”

“Why do you not go to sleep, we will wake you when there is news?” said Gavin and pointed to the sleeping bag on a camp bed tucked away in another corner.

Reluctantly Xavier did just that, thinking that he was not going to fall asleep. For the first time since he arrived at this accursed town, his wolf was calm because the animal found Joanne’s bolt hole. The warmth of the sleeping bag seduced his exhausted body, and he was soon fast asleep.


Last edited by Annamarth; 04-02-2017 at 06:31 AM.. Reason: My paragraph breaks disappeared.
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Old 04-08-2017, 03:48 AM
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I read the first couple of paragraphs, but I found myself losing focus while reading. There's a lot going on at the beginning, and I feel like you want to pull me into the action straight away, but right now you don't manage to do that.

Xavier forced the rage down that had bubbled up when Arthur prevented his discreet departure from the pack gathering.
Sentences like this make it difficult to really get into the story. First of all, I advise you the classic 'show, don't tell': Instead of saying 'Xavier forced the rage down', show the reader how he does that. Does he grit his teeth? Does he clench his fists? Does he take a deep breath? Make sure the reader can feel what Xavier feels.

On to the next part of the sentence. Rage and bubbling are two terms that don't really go together in my mind. As soon I read 'bubble', I think about soap bells and bubbling butterflies in one's stomach, which are related to positive feelings. Now that's just me, but be careful which words you use to describe specific feelings.

Suggestion for this specific sentence, to make it come across stronger: 'Xavier took a deep breath in an attempt to control the anger raging through his body. Arthur had really pissed him off by preventing his discreet departure from the pack gathering.'

It's fine to tell the reader about things that happened before the moment they are reading about, but make sure it's in relation to what is happening, so the focus stays clear.

I hope this helps!
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Old 04-08-2017, 06:14 PM
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By Chapter 23 drawing people into the story isn't really the issue. Either they're still interested after 22 chapters or they're not.
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Old 04-09-2017, 11:48 PM
Annamarth (Offline)
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Hi. I really appreciate comments and advice. With chapter 22 I had complaints that the story’s pace was too slow. I am also trying to create an ebb and flow, but it seems my readers do not like a slow chapter.
The comment on the bubbles. Well, I have been so mad at someone that it felt as if my blood was boiling and bubbling, so I thought it was appropriate to describe Xavier's feelings in this way. Funny how things mean different things to different people. I have been insulted with the word bubble, other people see the beautiful bubbles, for me, bubbles happen when things heat up.
No complaints about the show and tell, so I hope I have that sorted.
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